Issue 50, Special Edition, Living Independently and Being Included in the Community.February 2009 - ISSN 2202-0705
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In August 2007, PWD issued a special accommodation issue of the PWD E-Bulletin. It highlighted how the NSW Government was backing away from earlier promises to close all institutions and instead had developed a policy that talks about re-developing institutions and keeping them open.
This E-Bulletin talks about:
Since August 2007
Peat Island is a residential institution for persons with intellectual disability located at Brooklyn on an island in the Hawkesbury River. It accommodates about 120 people. On 8 November 2007, the NSW Government announced that the existing institution will be closed, but that it will be replaced by two new purpose built institutions at different locations. The largest of these new institutions will be a segregated village made up of 10, ten-bedroom facilities for up to 100 persons, which will be built at Hamlyn Terrace in the Gosford/Wyong area. The other smaller institution will be a segregated village made up of four five-bedroom facilities built on a half acre site at Wadalba on the Central Coast. Tenders for the development of these two facilities were called in January 2009. They are projected for completion in 2010.
The Lachlan Centre is a residential institution for persons with intellectual disability located in the grounds of Macquarie Hospital at North Ryde in Sydney. It now accommodates approximately 60 people. On 12 November 2007, the NSW Government announced that the existing institution would be closed and that a new institution would be built at the same location. This new institution will be a segregated village consisting of 10 five-bedroom facilities. A tender to build this new institution at a cost of $14million was awarded in December 2008. DADHC anticipates that the new institution will take about 15 months to build and will open in mid 2010.
The Grosvenor Centre is a residential institution for persons with intellectual disability located at Summer Hill in Sydney. It now accommodates approximately 20 people. A new institution was built on the site of the former institution during 2008 at a cost of $7.7million. The new institution is a segregated village that comprises two ten-bedroom facilities that provide long-term accommodation and two 5 bedroom facilities that provide short-term respite care. Residents moved in to these facilities in December 2008, and the institution was officially opened on 21 January 2009.
Other government operated institutions
Apart from the Peat Island, Lachlan and Grosvenor Centres, the NSW government continues to operate 8 other large residential institutions for persons with disability:
Additionally, the NSW government operates an institutional centre-based respite service at Liverpool in Sydney which accommodates approximately 10 people with intellectual disability at any one time. This facility was developed on the site of a former non-government institution – the Mannix Centre – which the NSW was forced to assume responsibility for in 2002, when the non-government organisation collapsed.
In February 2007, DADHC issued a tender for a consultant service and facilities planner to develop options for the future of Stockton, Rydalmere and Marsden, which would also include their “redevelopment.” This tender was not successful and was re-issued in December 2007. This later tender closed in February 2008. However, the later tender does not appear to have been allocated, and there is no public information about what DADHC now intends to do.
DADHC has also indicated a number of times that it is engaged in internal planning towards the “redevelopment” of the Kanangra and Riverside Centres.
Presumably, the use of the word ‘redevelopment’ is deliberate and it has the same meaning as it does when used in relation to Peat Island, Lachlan and Grosvenor – that is, the plan is to build new institutions on the sites of the existing institutions.
It appears that no action is being taken towards the closure or redevelopment of Tomaree and the High Dependency Unit.
Institutions operated by non-government organisations
The NSW Government also funds 22 residential institutions for persons with disability operated by non-government organizations:
In February 2007, DADHC also issued a tender for a consultant ‘services and facilities planner’ to work with DADHC staff and non-government organisations to clarify the status of these institutions and to identify possible redevelopment options for each. This Tender was awarded to the Nucleus Consulting Group P/L, and work is currently underway. The specifications for this work place major emphasis on on-site redevelopment of these institutions. No public information is available on the outcomes of this work to date. However, specific announcements have been made about the future of the following two non-government operated institutions:
Other concerning developments
The Framework comprises 12 accommodation support models. These models are divided into two basic categories:
The Framework describes institutions and group homes as ‘residual’ models – presumably meaning that DADHC does not intend to ‘purchase’ new services of this nature – although some group homes are, in fact, planned for purchase under the initiative (8 in Hunter Region, 11 in Metro North Region, 22 in Metro-South Region, 12 in Northern Region, 10 in the Southern Region and 14 in the Western Region).
There is a major emphasis on the development of new asset-based models:
In summary, up to 64% of new accommodation to be purchased by DADHC over the next 2-3 years will be asset-based institutional models!
These developments violate international human rights law!
Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) provides that persons with disability have a fundamental human right to live in and be a part of the community. It specifically requires:
Australia has ratified the CRPD and its provisions are binding not only on the Commonwealth Government, but also on each Australian State and Territory Government. The redevelopment of institutions, and the building of new ones, by the NSW Government is a clear violation of the CRPD.
These developments violate the NSW Disability Services Act!The objects of the NSW Disability Services Act require DADHC to ensure that accommodation services for persons with disability assist them to live in and be a part of the community. These services must ‘further the integration of persons with disabilities into the community,’ they must enable persons with disability ‘to achieve positive outcomes such as integration in the community,’ and they must, in fact, ‘achieve positive outcomes such as integration into the community.’ The ‘principles’ and ‘applications of principles’ of the NSW Disability Services Act also place major emphasis on the human right of persons with disability to live in and be a part of the community. The principles state that ‘persons with disabilities have the same right as other members of Australian society to receive services in a manner which results in the least restriction of their rights and opportunities.’ The applications of principles make it clear that principles such as this are to be applied in ways that will ensure that services ‘focus on the achievement of positive outcomes such as integration into the community,’ and on ‘promoting the participation of persons with disability in the life of the community through maximum physical and social integration.’ Quite obviously, institutional models of supported accommodation do not provide for the maximum physical and social integration of persons with disability into the community. The developments outlined above are therefore in clear violation of the NSW Disability Services Act.
The evidence-base for these service types is overwhelmingly negative!
The social scientific evidence-base in relation to segregated, congregated, institutional models of supported accommodation is overwhelmingly negative. These models are historically associated with extraordinary levels of abuse, neglect and exploitation. They have never provided a basis for persons with disability to develop or retain life skills, and are most likely to be associated with the loss of life skills, and the development of anti-social or non-adaptive behavior that typically includes harm to self and others. They have resulted in the loss of family relationships, and in many cases, in the total social isolation of persons with disability. All NSW Government agencies are supposed to adopt evidence-based approaches to policy and program development. Clearly, the developments outlined above do not take an evidence-based approach.
These developments ignore best practice service developments!
Around the world, the leading edge in best practice for supporting persons with disability to live in the community is an approach focused upon individualized supports, where the person receiving the service has maximum possible control over the resources available, and the ability to shape their supports in accordance with their identity and needs. The developments outlined above are de-individualising and disempowering of persons with disability. They perpetuate a system in which a facility has total control over the resources a person with disability requires for their support and survival.
DADHC’s main arguments in favour of re-development of institutions
Throughout DADHC’s recent documents, policy statements, budget reports, and news releases, phrases such as “contemporary standards”, “flexible, responsive accommodation”, “expanding the range of accommodation support models”, “providing specialist support for people with complex needs” are frequently used in relation to the institutional accommodation options outlined above. This language is deliberately misleading and deceptive:
Role of the Commonwealth government
Over the past two years, it has become clear to PWD that there is no will, and no capacity, within the NSW Government to develop an innovative and responsive disability supported accommodation system that will enable persons with disability to live with dignity in the community. We have, and will continue to, make vigorous representations to our NSW Parliamentarians, and to NSW disability officials, about these issues.
Taken together, the developments outlined in this E-bulletin represent the most regressive disability policy to emerge in 30 years. Until now, although there have certainly been ups and downs, the broad thrust of accommodation policy in Australia has been towards community living. The NSW Government’s current policies reverse that thrust and seek to establish a new generation of residential institutions that will ensnare future generations of persons with disability. Residential institutions are now no longer a vestige of the past to be overcome, they are also a dreadful spectre of the future that we must erase.
For the first time in three decades we are seeing substantial resources invested in the development of disability accommodation services. However, a significant proportion of this funding is being wasted on the development of accommodation models that violate human rights norms, which will therefore have to be dismantled in the short-term.
PWD has no alternative but to confront these developments using every option at its disposal. We will continue to keep members and colleagues informed of our efforts.
Community Forum – Same Sex Law Reform
As reported in the last E-Bulletin, PWD is working to ensure that the same sex law reforms do not impact negatively on people with disability in same sex relationships who are receiving social security payments.
As part of that work, PWD has partnered with the Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby (NSW), the Welfare Rights Centre, the National LGBT Health Alliance, Positive Life NSW and ACON to hold a community forum for people who may be affected by the reforms. The forum will be a chance to meet and discuss these issues and develop a community action plan.
The forum will be at ACON Sydney on Monday February 16 from 6pm until 8pm. ACON's address is 9 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills, NSW. For more information contact Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 9206 2048, or you can contact Dean Price, Advocacy Projects Manager at PWD.Return to top
Disability Studies and Research Centre, University of New South Wales Research Seminar Series
Ninth Annual Multiple Perspectives on Access, Inclusion and Disability: Change, Challenge and Collaboration: 28 and 29 April 2009: Ohio State University: Call for papers
Disability and Economy: Creating a Society for All: University of Tokyo and Manchester Metropolitan University: Manchester: United Kingdom: 29 and 30 April 2009:
Working Towards a Brighter Future: 25th Annual Pacific Rim International Conference on Disabilities: 4 and 5 May 2009: Honolulu:
Policy About Us, For Us! A Practical Revolution in the Lives of People with Disabilities: Australian Federation of Disability Organisations: 28 and 29 May 2009: Melbourne:
Believe: We are better. Reenergise, Reorganise, Reauthorise! 2009 National Council on Independent Living: Annual Conference on Independent Living: 5 to 8 June 2009: Washington, United States of America:
Facing the Future: Forensic Mental Health Services in Change: 9th Annual Conference of the International Association of Forensic Mental Health: 22 to 26 June 2009: Edinburgh, Scotland:
Asia Pacific Conference of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability: Creating possibilities for an Inclusive Society: Singapore 24 to 27 June 2009:
Towards a National Disability Studies Agenda: Disability Studies and Research Centre, University of New South Wales : 26 and 27 June 2009: Call for Papers
Disability and Communication: New Directions in Creativity and Global Citizenship? In Australian and New Zealand Communications Conference; 8 to 10 July 2009 Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
Present Difference: The Cultural Production of Disability: Manchester Metropolitan University in conjunction with BBC Northwest and the Cultural Disability Studies Research Network: 6 to 8 January 2010; Manchester, United Kingdom.
People with Disability Australia Incorporated (PWD) is a national disability rights and advocacy organisation. Its primary membership is people with disability and organisations primarily made up of people with disability. PWD also has a large associate membership of other individuals and organisations committed to the disability rights movement. PWD was founded in 1981, the International Year of Disabled People, to provide people with disability with a voice of our own. We have a cross-disability focus; we represent the interests of people with all kinds of disability. PWD is a non-profit, non-government organisation.
For information about membership of PWD, contact the Membership Services Officer by email or on one of numbers below.Return to top
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PWD has extensive experience in the development and delivery of professional training across a wide range of disability areas, including:
Training packages developed are flexible and tailor-made to meet the
needs of the particular organisation. To find out more about PWD's
training services or to discuss your specific training needs, contact
the Senior Education Officer Fiona Godfrey
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